Posted by: ourwildride | September 24, 2007

From my Outbox

There has been much negative press of late concerning the state of adoptions in Guatemala. Adoption reforms are needed in Guatemala and I personally support the Hague compliant legislation. But I think Guatemalan adoptions have become a scapegoat for the international adoption community and it makes me angry. And very sad. I wonder what future impact the fallout could have on our son. I want him to be proud of his heritage. I want to be proud of his heritage. But I fear pride isn’t born out of being constantly defensive about his origins.

Last week NPR ran a story on Guatemalan adoptions. Here is the story and the comments.

I’ve said before and I could say it until I’m blue in the face – we have no interest in adopting a child who is not legally relinquished or who has a Guatemalan family willing and able to care for him/her. This morning a friend sent me an email asking me about the topic after hearing the NPR comments last week. Below is a portion of my response to her inquiry.

Absolutely, there is good and bad in every adoption. Adoption is not a perfect solution. But, for some reason Guatemala has become the scapegoat of the international adoption community. Yes there has been corruption in the Guatemalan system and sadly I think some American parents don’t care. Yes, I am afraid there are women who are coerced (either outright or by the nature of extreme poverty) to relinquish their children. However, I find it interesting that I’ve never heard the term ‘coercion’ used in relation to Chinese adoptions (as if a 1 child policy isn’t coercion) or even US domestic adoptions (as if coercion via poverty or circumstance isn’t a factor in many domestic infant adoptions).

All reputable US agencies are already working under an ethical process. Unfortunately I think there are some people who don’t know or don’t care to know about the origin of their child – they just want a child. I can’t understand this but, sadly, I think it happens – and the media loves those types of stories.

UNICEF is working very hard to stop international adoptions in Guatemala. I do understand their position in theory. However, I think it is unrealistic and maybe even downright stupid in practice. As if stopping adoption makes orphaned or abandoned children go away. And as if it is better for a child to grow up in an orphanage or on the streets is better than being placed with a family. And they have no viable alternative solutions. I will NOT be supporting UNICEF until this changes.

I think the Guatemalan state has many, many problems. To name just a few: extreme poverty, high childhood mortality, lack of education, lack of health care, racism against the Mayan populations, unequal land distribution, and many documented cases of terrible violence against women that unfortunately go unpunished. All of these contribute to the high rate of adoption in Guatemala – but stopping international adoption does nothing to solve the root problems. And if international adoption is stopped without addressing the root problems what happens to the children? I believe the lucky ones would end up in orphanages. The rest of them would be on the street, or dead… How is that better?

If you are interested in issues related to human rights and violence against women in Guatemala check out the Washington Office on Latin America.

Mama Bear’s claws are out. Can you tell???

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